A reader writes in:
Long time reader/listener Ben. Please leave my last name out of this if you quote me. But I think I owe you some email fodder after all the great content you’ve given me.
I do email marketing for a financial company.
Can I just say that split testing is mostly BS?
I looked back at 50+ split tests of email subject lines, images, link types, etc.
And in only 3 of them was there a meaningful difference in open and click rates.
It makes me think that people who go crazy testing “sign up” vs “register” are wasting their time.
And when I look at revenues, you know which emails worked?
The ones that offer good products from a trusted source at a reasonable price.
Everything else is nonsense.
When you split test dog sh*t, you just get 2 piles of dog shit.
There are many reasons why I will never be “mainstream” in Internet marketing.
One of which is my indifference to testing emails.
I don’t screw around with HTML, or using templates, or images/pictures, or inserting hyper links into words, or split testing subject lines against each other, or any of that.
I simply write, and send, and sales show up.
Takes maybe 10-15 minutes on average.
Would I make more sales doing the above things?
Maybe, but probably not.
Even back in my client work days, making my emails look plain text — like they are coming from a friend at a glance — worked better than all the bells and whistles.
Every computer scientist and engineer I’ve asked about this (i.e. people who know how much discipline and patience it takes to do a for real scientific test) has told me the pointlessness of testing open rates as any kind of indication of sales.
It can be useful for other things.
(Testing the health of your list, seeing if you’re on any spam black lists, making sure gmail users are getting your emails, testing product titles, etc).
But, for keeping track of actual sales?
I say thee nay, Mortal.
That’s not to say you should or shouldn’t.
Do whatever you must.
But, in my way of thinking, it’s far more important to be grounded in the principles of direct response and copywriting first, and in all the high tech and new ways to split test or whatever second.
I remember when the Obama people revealed their campaign (2008) email tests.
It was amusing to read.
Because while they brought in something like $600 million in donations using email (far more than they did with social media, contrary to public social media goo-roo opinion), they could have saved a lot of time and money and energy by simply bringing people who already knew the basics of direct response marketing to do the emails, instead of bringing in people who had to “test” their way into learning even the most basic ideas I teach in my “Email Players Playbook” and newsletter.
I reckon they’d have brought in a helluva lot more, too.
This testing indifference gets me mocked in the IM community.
And, that’s okay.
I accept being the skid-mark on the underwear of email marketing.
It’s quite profitable.
And, has been quite profitable for my student’s too.
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